Better housing will benefit cattle

Most UK beef farmers can improve their cattle housing, says a leading cattle housing expert.

Former head of SAC building design, Mike Kelly, says most cattle buildings in the country are under-ventilated for the type and number of stock they house. “When animals go into housing in November, you often get muggy mornings with still air conditions, which can create a fog in the building. Condensation in the air supports pathogens that can create health problems, such as pneumonia. Some basic, affordable improvements to ventilation can make a significant difference.”

A recent estimate of the financial impact of a pneumonia outbreak suggested it costs £82 a calf. The EBLEX Beef Better Returns Programme (Beef BRP) is planning a series of events in October to highlight simple improvements beef producers can make to help prevent diseases such as pneumonia through improved housing facilities.

“We’re taking a two-pronged approach to helping beef farmers both prevent and treat pneumonia,” says EBLEX regional manager Phil Hadley. “Farmers who have been to events involving Mike Kelly tell me they applied something he recommended and it made a difference. They come away from the events with one or two low-cost practical tips to implement on-farm.”

The events, which will go ahead subject to stringent foot-and-mouth biosecurity measures, begin with a farm walk with the host and Dr Kelly reviewing the buildings for design and ventilation, highlighting best practice and pointing out opportunities for improvement. He will also demonstrate how producers can assess building ventilation on their own farm, with, for example, using smoke pellets to demonstrate air movement.

Other building-related problems associated with animal health, such as large groups, over-stocking and improving feed barriers, will also be considered.

Beef housing

The benefits of well-ventilated beef housing to prevent pneumonia will be discussed at various EBLEX housing open days later this month.

Eeblex housing open days in October
Date Venue Contact
Mon 8 Oct Corner Farm, Bicton Heath Shrewsbury Emma Horn 07970 312 230
Tue 9 Oct Trothlands Farm, St Weonards Herefordshire Emma Horn 07970 312 230
Wed 10 Oct Hollow Panson, Launceston, Cornwall Helen Ashcroft 01837 880 443
Thu 11 Oct Greencombe Farm, Purtington, Helen Ashcroft Chard, Somerset 01837 880 443
Events are subject to F&M biosecurity restrictions and may be cancelled at short notice

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